Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

$75K Settlement in ADA Parking Spaces Suit

This employer in Maryland allegedly took away preferential parking spots for persons with disabilities–and bought itself an ADA lawsuit as a result.

Cloverland Farms Dairy, the major milk producer in the Baltimore/Washington market, will pay $75,000 in monetary relief and furnish important equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sept. 19.

The EEOC said Cloverland Farms Dairy had allowed three maintenance mechanics with disabilities working at its Baltimore facility to park in parking spots reserved for individuals for disabilities throughout their lengthy employment, which ranged from eight years to 22 years. In July 2017, Cloverland forbade the employees from using the parking spots designated for individuals with disabilities. Instead, Cloverland required them to park at the employee parking lot farther away from the entrance, and then allowed others without disabilities to use the parking spaces reserved for individuals with disabilities that the three employees previously used, according to the suit.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, unless it is an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Cloverland Dairy Limited Partnership, t/a Cloverland Farms Dairy, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02759) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $75,000 in compensatory damages to the employees, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit provides significant equitable relief, including prohibiting Cloverland from violating the ADA in the future. The two complainants still working for the dairy will be allowed to park in the designated parking spaces for individuals with disabilities so long as they have a valid disability parking permit issued by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Cloverland will provide ADA training to all managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel. The company will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any future complaints of disability discrimination and will also post a notice regarding the settlement.

“We are pleased that Cloverland Farms Dairy worked closely with us to resolve this case promptly and without incurring litigation costs,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “This settlement protects all employees from disability discrimination going forward.”

Jamie R. Williamson, district director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, added, “Research shows that most reasonable accommodations are free, as in this case, or inexpensive. We are pleased that Cloverland Farms Dairy cooperated with the EEOC to provide the reasonable accommodations needed by these long-term employees.”

Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

EEOC: N. H. Employer Violated ADA By Not Hiring Disabled Worker Who Required Job Coach

This employer should have made a reasonable accommodation for a qualified applicant who needed to have a job coach, according to the EEOC.

Party City Corporation violated federal law by failing to hire a qualified employee with a disability at its Nashua, N.H. location, after it became aware that she required a job coach as a reasonable accommodation for her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Sept. 19.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, the disabled applicant, then a senior in high school who was on the autism spectrum and suffered from severe anxiety, had been receiving services from Easter Seals of New Hampshire for a number of years to build up her self-confidence, including around working and applying for a job. One of these Easter Seals employees went with her in October 2017 to apply for a sales associate job with Party City during its busy season. The applicant received a job interview, but when the hiring manager discovered that the woman accompanying her was not her mother and instead was a job coach, the hiring manager’s attitude changed dramatically.

The EEOC’s lawsuit further alleges that the hiring manager told the job coach that Party City had hired people “like that” (people with disabilities with job coaches) in the past and that it had not gone well. The hiring manager made disparaging comments about those individuals. Although both the applicant and the job coach explained to the hiring manager that the applicant had been successful shadowing others in previous retail jobs, as well as in a volunteer role at a day care center, the hiring manager was uninterested in either the applicant’s abilities or in the limited role the job coach would play. The hiring manager repeatedly tried to cut the interview short by telling the job coach in a patronizing tone, “thank you for bringing her here,” while the applicant was still in the room. The hiring manager also stated, in the applicant’s presence, that the Party City employee who had encouraged the applicant to apply would hire anyone, and would “even hire an ant.”

After Party City failed to hire the applicant because of her disability, Party City hired six sales associates in the days immediately after the applicant’s interview. For at least two of the hires, it was their first job: one was a 16-year-old and the other was a high school graduate.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability and imposes a requirement that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship on the employer. One of these accommodations can be the use of a job coach.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire (EEOC v. Party City Corporation, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-838) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief. The agency’s litigation efforts will be led by Senior Trial Attorney Mark Penzel.

“Federal law requires employers to consider disabled job applicants based on their abilities, not on demeaning stereotypes,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “Party City completely failed to do so here.”

EEOC’s New York district director, Kevin Berry, added, “Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation required by law, absent undue hardship. Here, the job coach, who would only have helped cue the applicant with her job tasks as she learned her job and for whom Party City would not have had to pay, was a completely reasonable accommodation that would have caused it no hardship at all.”

EEOC: Deaf Man’s Rights Violated by Safeway

Employers must do a better job dealing with qualified deaf applicants.

Grocery store giant Safeway, Inc. violated federal law by refusing to accommodate and hire a qualified deaf applicant for various store jobs in Seattle, Wash., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 12.

The EEOC said that Joel Sibert applied online in July 2017 for food, courtesy, produce and Starbucks clerk jobs at Safeway Store #1551 in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Based on his qualifications and experience working similar jobs, Sibert was selected for an interview. However, once Sibert explained that he is deaf and would need an interpreter for the interview, the in-store hiring recruiter told him she did not know anything about providing interpreters. When Sibert offered names and contact information for qualified interpreters Safeway could enlist for that purpose, the recruiter declined the offer but said she would get back to him. Sibert heard nothing further, so he placed multiple calls to the store over the following week, only to be placed on hold or told no one was available, the EEOC said.

Rejecting a qualified applicant because of disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Safeway, Inc., Case No. 2:18-cv-01352 ) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for Sibert and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.

“Evaluating an individual for his potential in the workplace – without letting fears and stereotypes get in the way – is absolutely critical in the hiring process,” EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko said.

Sienko noted that eliminating barriers in hiring, especially hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s 2017-21 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy added, “This candidate was well-qualified and deserved a chance to work. In fact, supervisors at his prior workplace were very happy with his performance, and his customers loved him. There’s no reason he wouldn’t have done just as well at Safeway if it were not for the disability discrimination that prevented his hire there.”

According to its website, http://www.safeway.com, Safeway became a subsidiary of Albertsons, Inc. in 2015. Prior to the merger with Albertsons, Safeway operated 1,335 stores in the United States and employed 138,000 individuals.

Employer Sued Over Medical Leave Denial

Another employer has crossed legal swords with federal civil rights enforcers over its handling of an employee’s request for leave due to a medical condition.

Vallen Distribution, Inc. d/b/a Hagemeyer North America, Inc., a national leading provider of indirect industrial supplies violated federal law when it fired an employee after he requested leave due to a medical condition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s suit, in August 2015, Hagemeyer fired Warehouse Driver Wesley Smith rather than grant his request for unpaid leave to treat and recover from prostate cancer.  Smith, who worked in Hagemeyer’s Augusta, Ga. warehouse facility, was fired the day before he was scheduled to undergo surgery.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination based on a disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vallen Distribution, Inc. d/b/a Hagemeyer North America, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00146-JRH-BKE) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Augusta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Smith, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“When an employer knows an employee has a disability and will need to be absent from work because of it, the employer should meet with the employee and seek to accommodate him,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “”Medical leave is a widely-recognized accommodation, and in Mr. Smith’s case, could easily have been granted, preventing the firing of a valuable employee. However, instead of accommodating him, Hagemeyer fired Smith, less than 24-hours before his surgery..”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The interactive process is most important during the accommodation process. In this case, Hagemeyer was much more interested in firing an employee with a disability rather than accommodating him and failed in its responsibility under the law.”

88K Settlement for the EEOC in ADA Suit Against An Idaho Store That Refused to Hire Deaf Worker

There’s been a rash lately of employers who don’t know how to handle deaf people who apply for open jobs.

An Idaho-based convenience store chain, Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., will pay $88,000 and hire a deaf worker as well as provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced September 7.

The EEOC lawsuit charged that Jacksons refused to interview Nathaniel Prugh because of his deafness. After applying online for a position at the company’s Sammamish, Wash., store, Prugh was selected for an interview based on his qualifications and experience working similar jobs. However, once he explained that he was deaf and would need an interpreter, the store manager balked and refused to give him that opportunity, the EEOC said.

Rejecting a qualified applicant because of disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., Case No. 2:17-CV-01285) after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Elizabeth Kidd and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“My being deaf does not prevent me from being a qualified worker with much to contribute,” said Prugh. “I’m excited to show Jacksons what a valuable contribution I can make to its team.”

The five-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides Prugh with a job and $88,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Jacksons to train staff regarding hiring and reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The company will also implement and disseminate a modified ADA policy, and will post a notice for employees about the consent decree and their rights under the ADA.

“Congress enacted the ADA to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than assumptions about what people with disabilities can or cannot do,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che. “This settlement helps ensure that qualified workers like Mr. Prugh have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability.”

Nancy Sienko, director for the Seattle Field Office, added, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit. We commend Jacksons for its commitment to its obligations under the law and for working with the EEOC and Mr. Prugh to provide him the opportunity he deserves.”

According to its website, http://www.jacksons.com, Jacksons Foods is one of the largest privately held corporations in Idaho, operating over 230 Chevron-, Shell-, and Texaco-branded convenience stores in six Western states, with over 3,000 employees.

Eliminating barriers in hiring, including hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC Recovers $88K For Blocked Deaf Applicant

This convenience story didn’t give a deaf applicant a fair shot at a job, according to federal investigators.

An Idaho-based convenience store chain, Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., will pay $88,000 and hire a deaf worker as well as provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced September 7.

The EEOC lawsuit charged that Jacksons refused to interview Nathaniel Prugh because of his deafness. After applying online for a position at the company’s Sammamish, Wash., store, Prugh was selected for an interview based on his qualifications and experience working similar jobs. However, once he explained that he was deaf and would need an interpreter, the store manager balked and refused to give him that opportunity, the EEOC said.

Rejecting a qualified applicant because of disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., Case No. 2:17-CV-01285) after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Elizabeth Kidd and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“My being deaf does not prevent me from being a qualified worker with much to contribute,” said Prugh. “I’m excited to show Jacksons what a valuable contribution I can make to its team.”

The five-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides Prugh with a job and $88,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Jacksons to train staff regarding hiring and reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The company will also implement and disseminate a modified ADA policy, and will post a notice for employees about the consent decree and their rights under the ADA.

“Congress enacted the ADA to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than assumptions about what people with disabilities can or cannot do,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che. “This settlement helps ensure that qualified workers like Mr. Prugh have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability.”

Nancy Sienko, director for the Seattle Field Office, added, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit. We commend Jacksons for its commitment to its obligations under the law and for working with the EEOC and Mr. Prugh to provide him the opportunity he deserves.”

According to its website, http://www.jacksons.com, Jacksons Foods is one of the largest privately held corporations in Idaho, operating over 230 Chevron-, Shell-, and Texaco-branded convenience stores in six Western states, with over 3,000 employees.

Eliminating barriers in hiring, including hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

EEOC: Server Was Fired Over Epilepsy

It’s not up to an employee to “control” her disability in order to keep her job. The law requires the employer to evaluate employees individually to determine if they are capable of doing the job.

That lesson apparently was lost on this Georgia restaurant.

A Golden Corral restaurant franchisee located in Augusta, Ga., violated federal law when it unlawfully fired a server with epilepsy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed September 6.

According to the EEOC’s suit, B. Fehr, LLC, doing business as Golden Corral, terminated Alicea Cruce in May 2016 because it accused her of being unwilling or unable to control her disability.

Discriminating against an employee due to a disability or perceived disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. B. Fehr, LLC d/b/a Golden Corral, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00145-JRH-BKE) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Augusta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for Cruce, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“An employer cannot fire an employee because of her disability – or its misperception of it,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “Ms. Cruce’s condition in no way prevented her from performing her job, yet her employer fired her out of fear for her condition. Such conduct violates the ADA.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC is committed to stopping workplace disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. The ADA was passed, in part, to allow individuals to be judged on their abilities, not on the employer’s assumptions about their supposed limitations.”

The Atlanta District Office of the EEOC oversees Georgia and parts of South Carolina.